November 30, 2010

Chris Hedges: Real Hope Is About Doing Something

Monday 29 November 2010

by: Chris Hedges | Truthdig | Op-Ed

On Dec. 16 I will join Daniel Ellsberg, Medea Benjamin, Ray McGovern and several military veteran activists outside the White House to protest the futile and endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of us will, after our rally in Lafayette Park, attempt to chain ourselves to the fence outside the White House. It is a pretty good bet we will all spend a night in jail. Hope, from now on, will look like this.

Hope is not trusting in the ultimate goodness of Barack Obama, who, like Herod of old, sold out his people. It is not having a positive attitude or pretending that happy thoughts and false optimism will make the world better. Hope is not about chanting packaged campaign slogans or trusting in the better nature of the Democratic Party. Hope does not mean that our protests will suddenly awaken the dead consciences, the atrophied souls, of the plutocrats running Halliburton, Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil or the government.

Hope does not mean we will halt the firing in Afghanistan of the next Hellfire missile, whose explosive blast sucks the oxygen out of the air and leaves the dead, including children, scattered like limp rag dolls on the ground. Hope does not mean we will reform Wall Street swindlers and speculators, or halt the pillaging of our economy as we print $600 billion in new money with the desperation of all collapsing states. Hope does not mean that the nation’s ministers and rabbis, who know the words of the great Hebrew prophets, will leave their houses of worship to practice the religious beliefs they preach. Most clerics like fine, abstract words about justice and full collection plates, but know little of real hope.

Hope knows that unless we physically defy government control we are complicit in the violence of the state. All who resist keep hope alive. All who succumb to fear, despair and apathy become enemies of hope. They become, in their passivity, agents of injustice. If the enemies of hope are finally victorious, the poison of violence will become not only the language of power but the language of opposition. And those who resist with nonviolence are in times like these the thin line of defense between a civil society and its disintegration.

Hope has a cost. Hope is not comfortable or easy. Hope requires personal risk. Hope does not come with the right attitude. Hope is not about peace of mind. Hope is an action. Hope is doing something. The more futile, the more useless, the more irrelevant and incomprehensible an act of rebellion is, the vaster and the more potent hope becomes. Hope never makes sense. Hope is weak, unorganized and absurd. Hope, which is always nonviolent, exposes in its powerlessness the lies, fraud and coercion employed by the state. Hope does not believe in force. Hope knows that an injustice visited on our neighbor is an injustice visited on us all. Hope posits that people are drawn to the good by the good. This is the secret of hope’s power and it is why it can never finally be defeated. Hope demands for others what we demand for ourselves. Hope does not separate us from them. Hope sees in our enemy our own face.

Hope is not for the practical and the sophisticated, the cynics and the complacent, the defeated and the fearful. Hope is what the corporate state, which saturates our airwaves with lies, seeks to obliterate. Hope is what our corporate overlords are determined to crush. Be afraid, they tell us. Surrender your liberties to us so we can make the world safe from terror. Don’t resist. Embrace the alienation of our cheerful conformity. Buy our products. Without them you are worthless. Become our brands. Do not look up from your electronic hallucinations to think. No. Above all do not think. Obey.

W.H. Auden wrote:
Faces along the bar

Cling to their average day:

The lights must never go out,

The music must always play,

All the conventions conspire

To make this fort assume

The furniture of home;

Lest we should see where we are,

Lost in a haunted wood,

Children afraid of the night

Who have never been happy or good.

The powerful do not understand hope. Hope is not part of their vocabulary. They speak in the cold, dead words of national security, global markets, electoral strategy, staying on message, image and money. The powerful protect their own. They divide the world into the damned and the blessed, the patriots and the enemy, the rich and the poor. They insist that extinguishing lives in foreign wars or in our prison complexes is a form of human progress. They cannot see that the suffering of a child in Gaza or a child in the blighted pockets of Washington, D.C., diminishes and impoverishes us all. They are deaf, dumb and blind to hope. Those addicted to power, blinded by self-exaltation, cannot decipher the words of hope any more than most of us can decipher hieroglyphics. Hope to Wall Street bankers and politicians, to the masters of war and commerce, is not practical. It is gibberish. It means nothing.

I cannot promise you fine weather or an easy time. I cannot assure you that thousands will converge on Lafayette Park in solidarity. I cannot pretend that being handcuffed is pleasant. I cannot say that anyone in Congress or the White House, anyone in the boardrooms of the corporations that cannibalize our nation, will be moved by pity to act for the common good. I cannot tell you these wars will end or the hungry will be fed. I cannot say that justice will roll down like a mighty wave and restore our nation to sanity. But I can say this: If we resist and carry out acts, no matter how small, of open defiance, hope will not be extinguished. If all we accomplish is to assure a grieving mother in Baghdad or Afghanistan, a young man or woman crippled physically and emotionally by the hammer blows of war, that he or she is not alone, our resistance will be successful. Hope cannot be sustained if it cannot be seen.

Any act of rebellion, any physical defiance of those who make war, of those who perpetuate corporate greed and are responsible for state crimes, anything that seeks to draw the good to the good, nourishes our souls and holds out the possibility that we can touch and transform the souls of others. Hope affirms that which we must affirm. And every act that imparts hope is a victory in itself.

Also from Auden:
Defenseless under the night

Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,

Ironic points of light

Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:

May I, composed like them

Of Eros and of dust,

Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,

Show an affirming flame.
Chris Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute. His newest book is “Death of the Liberal Class.” More information on the Dec. 16 protest can be found at

-thanks to truthout, truthdig and Chris Hedges

November 27, 2010

Zainab Salbi: Women, wartime and the dream of peace

-thanks to TED. filmed in July, 2010

November 26, 2010

Reply to living resistance, part one: heroes & part two: cowards

The following posts, part one and part two, are taken in their entirety from Laura's blog, We Move To Canada

Reply to living resistance, part one: heroes
War-resister blogger Dave Ward says he is neither coward nor hero. Obviously I don't think war resisters are cowards. And frankly, I think the people who call them cowards are idiots. I won't address that particular idiocy in this post. I'm going to ask redsock to guest-post on that topic in part two of this post.

But it was interesting for me to read that DW also doesn't like being called a hero.

At least once, whenever I talk to a group of people about the path that led me here, someone utters the word "hero" as if it were a compliment.. I cringe every time I hear it. Just as I'm no coward, I'm no hero, either. Deciding to shed my uniform and walk away from the military wasn't a heroic act. It was an enormously painful experience for me, and I agonized about it for - literally - months. For those months, I continued to execute my orders and support my unit. I continued to give orders that would result in the deaths of innocent civilians in numbers that still keep me awake at night. The thought that truly hurts me is that, for all that time, I knew better. I knew what I should do months before I actually did it. And I was never even remotely concerned about it until it was staring me in the face. Only through being present during the actual commission of war crimes was I able to realize what was wrong in my military service. I still feel like I was forced into taking action, and really had no other choice than to refuse further service. I simply couldn't live with myself anymore. I can honestly tell you if there had been any other way to not participate in that anymore, I'd have taken it. If there had been any easier way to stop it, I'd have done it. I was no hero, I just ran out of options.

I can appreciate this. A young woman once told me I was a hero of hers. I felt completely ridiculous. I was just living my life.

Few people consider themselves heroes for making moral choices. When someone jumps in a river to save a drowning stranger, they are always hailed as a hero, and what do they always say? I'm not a hero, I just did what anyone else would have done.

In fact, choosing what's right over what's expedient or over what is expected of us - when what is expected is wrong - should not be heroic. It should be commonplace. It should be merely human.

Unfortunately, moral choices are sometimes in short supply. Expediency, profit, short-term thinking, self-preservation narrowly defined - these often seem thick on the ground. So when people do the right thing despite a high risk of harm to themselves we often see them as heroes.

DW implies that serious peace activists who support the cause of US war resisters in Canada are heroes. This is flattering, but embarrassing. I work for peace, I study peace, I think about peace and how we can create a more peaceful world. It takes time and effort, but it is also a joy, and my passion. My activism presents little risk to me, and when there is some slight risk, I welcome the opportunity to test my commitment.

The war resisters have done something better, something braver - and something that actually makes a difference. First, they said no to war. They said no to the mightiest military institution the world has ever seen. But it's more than that.

War resisters bring us the gift of truth: first-hand experience of the injustice of war. They give us the gift of example, by showing other military people that resistance is possible, and by showing what moral courage looks to anyone with the brains and compassion to recognize it. And the US war resisters in Canada have given us the opportunity to fight for the Canada we want to live in, a Canada that reflects our values. They've given us a concrete way to work for peace.
The men and women who "ain't gonna study war no more" inspire me every day. Dave Ward may not like it, but war resisters everywhere are my heroes.

Reply to living resistance, part two: cowards
[redsock guest post]
Laura recently offered her thoughts on war resister Dave Ward's declaration that he is neither coward nor hero.

Laura wrote:"People who call [war resisters] cowards are idiots." Then she asked me to offer perhaps a more substantive reply.

At various events, I have heard resisters mention being called cowards and why they felt the description was undeserved. Their answers often center on the fact that they have actually been in Iraq -- for years, in some cases -- and know first-hand what is going on. Having participated in dozens of house raids, having assisted in funneling innocent civilians into the US's torture chambers, having intimate knowledge of the vast carnage the US is committing and how the military is working overtime to hide the truth far from the eyes and ears of its citizens (the people who are funding the slaughter), they were in a far better position to render a verdict on the legality and morality* of the occupation.

All that is true, of course, but I can think of other reasons why these men and women are not cowards.

They stood up to the most powerful military in human history -- where I can only assume the peer pressure is intense -- and said No. When they made the decision to leave the US and come to Canada, they and their families gave up their homes, their jobs, and their friends. They became forever estranged from some or all members of their families. (At least one resister's mother told her child she wished he had been killed in Iraq rather than have deserted.)

They took only what they could carry (or fit in their car) and they drove -- in total secrecy -- to a foreign country they they had most likely never visited before. They came without a place to live, without jobs, without friends. They knew they might never see anyone from the US again. They knew that if they returned to the US (or were deported), they faced a military trial, a prison sentence, and a felony conviction that would follow them for the rest of their lives. (They also could be forcibly sent back to Iraq, which would probably a death sentence.) That criminal record would make it impossible for them to continue their education, get a bank or house loan, or apply for most jobs, even working for a fast food franchise.

In all other endeavors in our lives, we have the right -- we insist upon it, actually -- to say no, to quit, to change our minds. We leave jobs, we drop out of school, we break promises and agreements**, we get divorced (sorry, buddy, you signed a contract: 'til death do you part). Yet only for these most serious of circumstances -- the decision to kill other human beings -- do a depressingly high number of people smother all hint of compassion and race to assume this lofty position of judgment over people they know nothing about: "You have no rights, you must do whatever you are told to do."

I think about the inner strength it must have taken to leave the military, leave your country, and start a new life from scratch in a different country, with the horror of deportation hanging over you. I think about the huge risks and sacrifices these men and women -- many of them half my age or younger -- have made.

"Coward" is quite possibly the very last word in the dictionary I would use to describe them.

* Part of the bizarre hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance of the United States is that it does whatever it wants wherever it wants -- which has meant a lot of deliberate murders, rapes, torture, bombings, snuffing out of democracies, plundering the riches of others -- while also insisting that it is the foremost Christian nation on the planet. It is my understanding that Jesus (he put the Christ in Christianity!) told his followers that when your enemies attack you, you should turn the other cheek. He did not say "Fuck up your enemy so he's sorry he was ever born". And he absolutely did not say, "Go into the next town, rape and murder some random family, and steal their valuables."

** - Yet when the military forces soldiers to serve additional time beyond what they agreed to serve, there is no talk of demanding that the military "honour its contract".

November 23, 2010

VIDEO: Bob Marley - War/No More Trouble

FAN MADE VIDEO - Bob Marley - Babylon By Bus (1978). Authors: darja.c & smokie (2009).

When I watch this video I can't figure out why people allow the rapacious, exploitative military recruiters in the schools to snatch their children. Don't parents care if their kids lose a part of their innocence and learn to kill people? We should be demanding the schools stop making our kids available to these child predators. If the parents don't get it, the rest of us in the community should step up as we would if a child was being beaten or molested.

You Have the Right to Remain Silent: A Know Your Rights Guide for Law Enforcement Encounters

You Have the Right to Remain Silent

A Know Your Rights Guide for Law Enforcement Encounters
Author(s): National Lawyers Guild
Publication Date: 11/12/2010
Format: Print & Digital

This pocket-sized know-your-rights booklet is designed to be a practical resource for activists and others when dealing with law enforcement. The 16-page primer advises people of their rights when confronted by FBI agents or the Department of Homeland Security. It also includes information for noncitizens and minors.

Designed as a companion to Operation Backfire, this booklet is available for free download below or in print by contacting the National Office.

November 19, 2010

Lie-bury: Protesters Say George Bush Library Should be a Pile of Rubble

  • by Medea Benjamin
Several thousand people lined up to see George Bush, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice shovel dirt into a hole at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, the site slated to become the George Bush Presidential Center housing a museum, library and archives.

Over 100 peace activists showed up to protest, including New York City artist Laurie Arbiter, who helped organize a March of the Dead and carried a sign asking "Does America Have a Conscience?" "Rather than build a library, we should leave the broken ground and just fill it with a big pile of rubble," said Arbiter. "That would truly represent the catastrophic results of the Bush Administration."

As part of the March of the Dead, protesters dressed in black, wore white death masks and had signs around their necks representing dead Iraqis, Afghans and U.S. soldiers. The dramatic March stopped traffic and provoked strong emotions in passers-by, participants and even the police. Renee Schultz, who drove from Indianapolis to join the protest, wore the death mask and a sign representing a 23-year-old female U.S. soldier killed in Iraq. "When I first put on the mask, I just stood there and cried. I kept thinking, ‘I am 23 years old and had my whole life ahead of me. Why did I die?'" Schultz looked over at the riot police and noticed that one of them also had tears streaming down his eyes.

When the marchers attempted to reach the public viewing area, the police forced them back to the designated "protest pen" far from the ceremony. One of the protesters, a wheelchair-bound veteran of the Korean War and World War, angrily told the police that he did not fight in two wars to be told that his freedom of speech would be confined to a "protest zone."

The gathering was part of a three-day People's Response, filled with rallies, marches, teach-ins, and exhibits of crosses and soldiers' boots to represent the war dead. Organized by Texans for Peace, The Dallas Peace Center, CODEPINK and Veterans for Peace, among others, the speakers included former FBI agent Colleen Rowley, former CIA agent Ray McGovern, retired Colonel Ann Wright, professor Robert Jensen, CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin and Texas State Representative Lon Burnam.

Among the protesters was also Cindy Sheehan, the Gold Star mother who led a prolonged protest outside Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas in 2005. "Bush should not be allowed to profit from war crimes, crimes that he has even admitted to," said Sheehan. "It's not right that he will make millions from his book and speaking engagements, while millions have been killed, displaced, tortured and had their lives ruined because of him."

The protesters focused on the lies Bush told the American public to justify invading Iraq, his authorization of torture and the need for accountability. "Accountability is the sign of a true democracy," said former CIA agent Ray McGovern. "No one should be above the law and the truth must not be buried or rewritten."

Protesters were also concerned about the policies the new Bush Center will promote. President Bush said the Center would include an "action-oriented institute" to advance the principles his administration stood for, including the "benefits of limiting the role of government in people's lives." According to local organizer Leslie Harris of CODEPINK, "this really means promoting the same kinds of disastrous policies that brought us pre-emptive war, economic crisis, environmental disaster, unprecedented presidential power, and diminished civil and human rights. We can't let one of America's worst presidents shape our future policies."

The peace activists who came to protest Bush also discussed their disappointment with the Obama administration and the difficulties they anticipate in pushing the new, more conservative Congress to stop funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Among the actions they encouraged were:
  • supporting the Midwest anti-war activists whose homes were raided by the FBI and supporting the January 15 FBI protest in Washington DC;
  • promoting local campaigns, including citywide resolutions, to bring our war dollars home;
  • reaching out to allies, particularly groups victimized by the economic crisis, but also reaching out to members of the Tea Party who want to see cuts in Pentagon spending;
  • pressuring the State Department to stop using private security contractors;
  • supporting the December 16 veteran-led civilian disobedience in Washington DC;
  • organizing a delegation to Iraq to take testimonies from Iraqis about George Bush and the legacy of the US invasion;
  • building on the new calls by Amnesty International and the ACLU to prosecute Bush for war crimes;
  • stopping John Yoo, author of the "torture memos", from teaching law at the UC Berkeley law school.

For some light entertainment after long days of protest, a group stopped by local Barnes and Noble to reshelve-and photograph--Bush's Great Decisions in a more appropriate place in the store. These included placing the book next to:
  • The Murder Business in the 'True Crimes' section,
  • Wing Nuts in the 'Fantasy Section',
  • When Law Fails: Making Sense of Miscarriages of Justice in the 'Legal Section'
  • and our favorite in the 'Children's Section', Dr. Seuss' Will You Please Go Now?
With the renewed media attention on George Bush, including his sanctioning of torture, Bush might do well to take Dr. Seuss' advice.

November 18, 2010

Shut Down the School of the Americas! November 19-21, 2010 - Converge on Fort Benning, Georgia!

Written by Janice Bennett, Raising Kane Productions
Join thousands from across the country at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia for the November Vigil to close the SOA.

more info HERE

short interview with the Plowshares Five "Disarm now" They were being honored at the WPSR dinner in Seattle.

Plowshares Five "Disarm Now" interviews from toddboyle on Vimeo.

November 15, 2010

Veterans Say: "Take a Stand for Peace", November 16th

print poster HERE
During the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King called our government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” True then—and even more so today."

A few years before that, in 1964 Mario Savio made his great speech at Berkeley; at the end he says:
“There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

There are children being orphaned, maimed or killed every day, in our name, with our tax dollars; there are soldiers and civilians dying or being maimed for life, in order to generate profits for the most odious imperialistic corporate war machine ever, again in our name. How long are we going to let this go on? Until it is too late, until this destructive machine destroys all of us and the planet to boot?

We believe that the power of courageous, committed people is greater than that of corporate warmongers. But we will only see our power when we use it collectively, when we stand together.

With courage, persistence, boldness and numbers, we can eventually make this monstrous war machine grind to a halt, so that our children and all children everywhere can grow up in a peaceful world.

Join us at the White House on December 16th!

First Meeting of the War Resisters Support Campaign of Niagara

War resisters are American soldiers, who after experiencing the horrors of the Iraq war, had to get out. They deemed military desertion their only option. Canadians have spoken clearly through polls and through Parliament that the majority want US war resisters to be allowed to stay in Canada. There are war resisters here in the Niagara region who want to tell their stories and are looking for community support and encouragement. Come out and meet a local war resister family at the first meeting of the War Resisters Support Campaign of Niagara. The group will be planning events in the next several months.

Thursday, November 18 · 7:30pm - 9:30pm
The Hub (inside the Guild Hall)
72 Charlotte Street
Port Colborne, ON

-thanks to Michelle Robidoux (WRSC)

November 8, 2010

Thank you Phil, for standing up and actually serving us and the people of the world.

The soldiers who fought in US Wars of aggression don't need wikileaks to tell us what happens there. But evidently much of the rest of the country does. I would like to believe it was a case of 'needing to see it to believe it' rather than being extreme 'not caring'. But that's a stretch for me.

As ignorant as it might be, possibly the American people just couldn't bring themselves to accept the stories of thousand upon thousands of soldiers - back from Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq - and needed more proof. The stories were too horrible and they couldn't believe they had been condoning and supporting it by remaining silent.

But I know if I believe that, I am the ignorant one. I have spent much of the last 40+ years talking to all kinds of people about the wars and occupations and my conclusion is they know.
However, for those who would argue they didn't realize what was going on, the wikileaks will confirm the stories.

If they aren't affected by the the stories the soldiers brought back from the occupations or the fact that more active duty soldiers are dying from suicide than combat and the fact that over 7,000 veterans committed suicide last year, then they might not be affected by wikileaks either.

Wake up!

It is what the US military does.
It is what the American people pay for.
It is what we try to ignore and/or justify again and again.

Here is a clip of an American war resister, Phil McDowell, a good man living in Canada. He shares his view of what wikileaks shows us about the Iraq War (occupation).

Thank you, Phil, for standing up and actually serving us and the people of the world.

Why is the US military persecuting resisters who refuse to return to the occupations? I guess that's obvious.

The real question is, "why do Americans allow them to be persecuted?"

November 4, 2010

IVAW's Operation Recovery: Stop Sending Traumatized Troops Back to War

IVAW'S Jason Hurd & Aaron Hughes being interviewed

Listen to the interview here


IVAW Operation Recovery: 10 Reasons Traumatized Troops Need a Right to Heal

1. Suicide rates among active-duty troops are twice as high as that of the civilian population, and veterans with PTSD are six times more likely to attempt suicide.1

2. 20% to 50% of all service members deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan have suffered Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): this translates to 350,000 to 900,000 current GIs or recent veterans that have suffered or are suffering from PTSD.2

3. By 2008, nearly 33% of troops had served 2 tours to Iraq or Afghanistan, while 10% had served 3 tours. Today over 11,000 troops have served 6 tours. Each tour greatly increases a service member’s chances of PTSD. Almost 30% of troops on their third deployment suffer from serious mental-health problems. 3

4. 15% of women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have experienced sexual assault or harassment. 20% of women using VA services have reported Military Sexual Trauma (MST). 4

5. Post-deployment costs to taxpayers resulting from PTSD and major depression range from $4 billion to $6.2 billion, depending on the cost of the more than 2,100 service members’ lives lost to suicide.5

6. Troops with PTSD and major depression are seeking help, but most are getting less than adequate treatment. Half of the service members with a probable PTSD diagnosis or major depression have sought help6

7. A third of soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq say they can't see a mental health professional when they need to.7

8. Nearly 20% of service members are taking some kind of psychiatric drug. Among service members currently in combat, 12% in Iraq and 17% in Afghanistan are taking prescription antidepressants or sleeping meds. Yet the military has no way of tracking prescription drug use in combat.8

9. The DOD cannot establish that service members are mentally fit to deploy or ensure that it can accurately assess mental health conditions when they return.9

10. A service member deemed ineligible for deployment by a military mental health professional can be forced to deploy with severe trauma by a commanding officer. 10

“Suicide and PTSD”, Department of Veterans Affairs,, Armen Keteyian “Suicide Epidemic Among Veterans”, CBS News, November 13 2007, and Mark Thompson “Invisible Wounds: Mental Health and the Military” CNN, August 22 2010,,9171,2008886,00.html

2 Seal, K. H., Bertenthal, D., Maguen, S., Gima, K., Chu, A., & Marmar, C. R. (2008). “Getting beyond “Don't ask; don't tell”: An evaluation of US Veterans Administration post-deployment mental health screening of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.” American Journal of Public Health, 98, 714–720. See also “Comparisons of PTSD rates” Journal of Traumatic Stress-Volume 23, Issue 1, Feb, 2010

3 The Alaska Army National Guard: A “Tremendous Shortfall”, A Report of the Veterans For America National Guard Program, October 15, 2008 and Mark Thompson, “America's Medicated Army” Time, June 5th, 2008,8599,1811858-2,00.html

4 and “Responding to Military Sexual Trauma - Still A Long Way to Go” Marcia G. Yerman,

5 Terri Tanielian and J. Cox et al “Invisible Wounds of War: Addressing Psychological and Cognitive Injuries” RAND 2008, p. 12 and Mark Mueller, “Military suicides increase as U.S. soldiers struggle with torment of war”

6 Terri Tanielian and J. Cox et al “Invisible Wounds of War: Summary and Recommendations Addressing Psychological and Cognitive Injuries” RAND 2008, p. 12 (of introduction)

7 Terri Tanielian and J. Cox et al “Invisible Wounds of War: Addressing Psychological and Cognitive Injuries” RAND, 2008, p. 251

8 Mark Thompson, “America's Medicated Army” Time, June 5th, 2008,8599,1811858-2,00.html See also, Bob Brewin, Nextgov, 06/08/2010, Defense unable to track deployed troops' use of psychiatric drugs, and “Medicating the military” By Andrew Tilghman and B. McGarry, Army Times, 03/17/2010

9 GAO-07-831, “Comprehensive Oversight Framework Needed to Help Ensure Effective Implementation of a Deployment Health Quality Assurance Program”, June 2007, pg 1

10 DDI 1332.14(8)c Updated: March, 29, 2010.

The Issue

Thousands of troops are being sent to war despite suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and Military Sexual Trauma (MST). Many of us within IVAW have faced or are currently facing deployment as we try to recover from the severe trauma we have already experienced.

While we recognize that we must stop the deployment of all soldiers in order to end the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, we see the deployment of soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injuries, and Military Sexual Trauma as particularly cruel, inhumane, and dangerous. Military commanders across all branches are pushing service members far past human limits for the sake of 'combat readiness.' We cannot allow those commanders to continue to ignore the welfare of their troops who are, after all, human beings.

There is a problem, a basic right is being denied, and we will organize to get it back.

This issue affects all of us. Everyone needs to recognize that the improper standards of care in the military and VA are harming our brothers and sisters, our nation, and only furthers the cycle of dehumanization and destruction of these wars.

Service Members have the Right to Heal

Because the military is desperate for warm bodies in the field, and the VA doesn't have the resources to serve all those in need, too often service members are conveniently denied care or access to quality mental health screenings. We say, service members with PTSD, TBI, MST, and combat stress have the right to high quality health care. They have the right to seek care and pursue treatments in the best interest of their health and well-being.

Service members have the right to receive medical care and advice from medical professionals.

A commander's orders always supersede the opinion of military medical professionals when it comes to the well-being of our troops. We say, no military authority shall override the advice of medical professionals regarding the health of service members.

Service members who experience PTSD, TBI, MST, and combat stress have the right to exit the traumatic situation and receive immediate support, and compensation.

Too often, service members are forced to redeploy back into dangerous combat, or train in situations that re-traumatize them. We say, individuals suffering from trauma have the right to remove themselves from the source of the trauma. Service members who are not physically or mentally healthy shall not be forced to deploy or continue service.

  • We will support service members standing up for their right to heal, and we will stand against those responsible for violating them.
  • We will expose those responsible for the deployment of traumatized troops. Those responsible will do everything they can to hide the truth, but Operation Recovery will expose the truth.
  • We will demand those responsible for the deployment of traumatized troops end this inhumane practice, and back our demands up with collective action.
  • We will end these wars by winning our Right to Heal. We know that without the repeated use of traumatized soldiers on the battlefield, the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan could not continue

Take Action

Join IVAW's campaign now by making a Pledge of Support.

-thanks to IVAW for info above

November 1, 2010

Protesting the Body Snatchers in downtown Buffalo

It's a wonderful thing to drive by the recruiters' offices in downtown Buffalo and see protesters out there every week. It's nice to see warm, passionate people on cold days in front of the cold, deathly offices of the military - week after week.

Their lively, whitened, painted faces pronounce and counter the death and murder deviously hawked from behind the windows of the ticket offices for the military crypts - mausoleums for burying the innocence of our youth.

Offices allowed to operate in the heart of a city - signing up kids to learn to kill.

The blinds are often closed on these large-windowed crypts on the sidewalk. Are the men and women inside embarrassed to show their faces to the public? They know that many of the kids they have recruited from these very offices have died or been inured beyond repair or participated in some odious occupation and international war crimes.

What a place to call "the office" or "work". "Bye kids, daddy's got to go to work."
I feel bad that they have to live with that. Hopefully they will see the light and refuse to continue contributing to deadly corporate and militarist demands. Maybe they can find a job that will make their kids proud of their mom or dad. Make them proud of themselves.

-Photo's from Rob Gould's photo album